- Americans for Prosperity data at stake in court fight
- Group didn't show it has cause to fear disclosure, judges said
California can ask a nonprofit group started by conservative billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch for the names and addresses of its donors, but the state can’t publicly disclose that information.
A federal appeals court on Monday overturned a lower-court judge, allowing California Attorney General Kamala Harris to seek the information from the Americans for Prosperity Foundation while the group’s lawsuit is being decided. The foundation contends it shouldn’t have to share with the state the donor data it gives the Internal Revenue Service.
The three-judge appeals panel said in an unanimous decision that the organization, which promotes causes such as limiting the size and power of government, didn’t show it has reason to fear disclosure of the information the attorney general requires for enforcing laws on charitable organizations.
“To the extent the district court found actual chilling or a reasonable probability of harassment from confidential disclosure to the attorney general, those findings are clearly erroneous,” said the panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
It’s the second time this year the San Francisco-based court has ruled for the attorney general, a Democrat running for the U.S. Senate, on a challenge to the state’s requirement for nonprofits to disclose their donors. In May, the court upheld a judge’s order for the nonprofit Center for Competitive Politics to report contributors who gave it $5,000 or more.
“Today’s orders from the Ninth Circuit by no means mark the end of the foundation’s lawsuit,” Derek Shaffer, a lawyer for the Americans for Prosperity, said in an e-mail. “We have every intention of proceeding with our challenge in accordance with the Ninth Circuit’s instruction.”
The case is Americans for Prosperity Foundation v. Harris, 15-55446, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (San Francisco).